Tag Archives: TPP-2015-10

Artsy Parking

TPP-2015-10-Artsy ParkingBy Melonie Curry

Despite being one of the largest and fastest-growing cities in the nation, there’s one thing the City of Houston can’t get enough of: free parking. In Houston’s Warehouse District, streets fill rapidly with the vehicles of employees and university students, leaving area residents and business owners searching for spots. The situation became so overwhelming that in 2013, the community reached out to the city and requested parking meters (believe it or not).

The Warehouse District, located on the northeast side of downtown Houston, is an eclectic mix of residential lofts, artist studios, industrial companies, and fine dining. The city’s parking management division wanted a solution that not only solved the parking problem but also embraced the culture of the neighborhood. Thus, the Art Parking Meter program was born, and on Oct. 22, 2013, Mayor Annise Parker unveiled what we believe to be the nation’s first permanent art parking meters, right there in the Warehouse District.

“The Warehouse District has a one-of-a-kind atmosphere, and we wanted one-of-a-kind meters to reflect that feeling,” says Maria Irshad, assistant director of parking management. “Our goal was to reduce serious street overcrowding with a solution that adds a fun and unique twist to traditional parking meters. The art parking meters are an example of how residents from across the city are working together to make Houston shine. Thanks to the amazing talent of four local artists, the meters will leave a memorable impression on visitors and Houstonians alike.”

Kicking Off
The first step in launching the program was figuring out how to make parking meters beautiful. That meant finding the right people for the job.

Artists for the project were strategically chosen through a selection process by a panel of representatives from the city and the Houston Arts Alliance, a nonprofit agency established by the city to enhance the quality of life and tourism by advancing the arts in the Houston region. The Houston Arts Alliance invests and nurtures Houston’s thriving creative community by providing more than 225 grants to nonprofit arts organizations and individual artists each year, commissioning the work of artists for public spaces, managing the city’s art collection, and showcasing Houston’s rich folk-life traditions. Applicants were asked to propose a creative idea for a parking sculpture that was durable, functional, and could withstand time, weather, and high-volume traffic.

The Art
The four artists chosen to art-up the city’s parking meters represent the diversity and talent Houston’s art community has to offer. Ketria Scott, designer of the Gumball Machine art meter sculpture, described her work as a combination of “organic and industrial objects to create unexpected artifacts, suggesting a story or an artifact of unexplainable occurrence or transformation. My hope is that the piece holds the viewer’s attention for a moment and gives him or her pause to wonder and create his or her own story of how it came to be and what it means. Basically, it’s a starting point for the viewer’s story.”

“The auto industry that changed America continues to play a major role in Houston’s energy economics today,” says sculptor Devon Christopher Moore, whose fabricated sculpture combines the head and base of a parking meter with an assemblage of vintage auto parts.

Artist David Medina’s Found Art meter sculpture captured many different discarded items found in the district. Medina, a faculty member at the prestigious Glassell School of Art, works in a variety of media. He decided to cast the items in bronze and attach them to a traditional meter.

Anthony Thompson Shumate contributed three very unique pieces to the project, The Wind Blown Meters, which appear to be suspended in mid-air and to defy gravity on a daily basis.

Spreading the Joy

Before the meters were installed, unmanaged curb space resulted in a parking free-for-all, with increased traffic from drivers circling the area, frustrated residents unable to park by their homes, and hindered economic development. By collaborating with the community, the program reduced parking stress and encouraged curbside turnover. The artistic component enhanced the area’s curb appeal and added to the unique atmosphere, which makes the Warehouse District a destination for visitors and resident Houstonians.

The warm welcome received for the first Art Meter Project created the opportunity for a second project along Houston’s Washington Avenue Corridor. Established in 2012 as Houston’s first Parking Benefit District (a defined geographic area in which a portion of meter revenue is returned to the district to finance improvements that enhance the quality of life and promote walking, biking, and public transportation use), the Washington Avenue Corridor was a growing nightlife destination in desperate need of a parking management strategy.

Houston’s Parking Management Division faced a different challenge on Washington Avenue: convincing people to pay at the meter. Meters were new to the area, and people did not know where or how to use them. At the start, curbside parkers didn’t feed the meters and racked up serious citations. It was clear that customers were not aware that the meters were in effect until 2 a.m.

The second art meter project was designed to draw attention to and better illuminate the meters for the parking public.

Troy Stanley, a sculpture and mixed media artist and a resident of the Washington Corridor, was commissioned for the new art meter project. As a resident, Stanley had a special insight into the culture of the neighborhood and created pieces to reflect the area’s spirit. The series, Urban-Over-Growth, utilizes lighting to decoratively enhance meters that are primarily used at night. A light fixture inside the sculptures, aided by mirror vinyl wrap, illuminates a cut-steel floral design that is projected onto the surfaces surrounding the meters. Each Urban-Over-Growth meter is unique and represents Houston’s typical three-season weather: Urban-Over-Growth-Spring, Urban-Over-Growth-Summer, and Urban-Over-Growth-Fall.

Feedback and Results
“Houston’s Parking Management has been a great partner,” says Jonathon Glus, president and CEO of the Houston Arts Alliance, which seeks opportunities to engage local artists and fabricators in creative place-making across the city. “The six 2013 meters were the first parking meter project in the nation to employ sculptural elements to design; the 2014 meters are the first to accommodate an electric design. The Art Parking Meters exemplify two important elements in public art: permanence and distinction.”

Houston’s Art Parking Meter program provides a solution that adds a fun and creative twist to traditional parking meters. The meters reflect the uniqueness of each district, maintain full functionality, and help the city more effectively manage curbside parking. The City of Houston looks forward to future opportunities to collaborate with artists and the community to highlight the cultural nuances of Houston through better parking management.

Melonie Curry, MBA, is a staff analyst for the City of Houston Parking Management Division. She can be reached at melonie.curry@houstontx.gov.

TPP-2015-10-Artsy Parking

A Win-Win on Two Wheels

TPP-2015-10-A Win-Win on Two WheelsBy Craig Cotton and Stacy Stockard

The cycle always repeated. Every August, fresh-faced students showed up to the Texas Tech University campus to begin their collegiate journeys, shiny new bicycles in tow. And at the end of every May, hundreds of bicycles littered the campus. Every bike rack had a dozen bicycles still locked up and either left behind by their student owners or forgotten and immobile due to a lack of repairs.

Texas Tech Transportation and Parking Services (TPS) employees spent weeks cutting the locks of bicycles, collecting them, and sending them to summer surplus auctions. They often picked up more than 500 bicycles. Locals bought the bikes for pennies on the dollar while TPS saw no remuneration for the man hours spent. Every August, it started over with freshmen purchasing brand-new bicycles. After awhile, TPS knew we had to get the abandoned bikes back in the hands of the students who needed them and break the cycle.

By the Book

A university operating policy placed TPS in charge of determining which bicycles were abandoned by their owners and then collecting the abandoned bicycles. Once finals end, students take their bicycles from campus. A TPS crew tags all bikes found on campus immediately following May commencement.

Tagging involves attaching a tag to a bicycle’s handlebars stating that the owner has 30 days to remove the tag to show the bike is not abandoned. A string is tied to the spokes of a wheel so when the owner rides the bicycle, the string breaks. This provides a backup method of ensuring a bicycle in use is not collected.

Thirty days after tagging, TPS begins collecting bicycles whose tags have not been removed or whose strings are still tied to spokes. The bicycles are trailered back to the TPS tow yard, where they are assigned a space on a bicycle rack and logged into the NuPark Campus parking management software as a bicycle tow. TPS gives owners of registered bicycles at least another 30 days to contact the office. Together, tagging and collecting take three weeks for the crew of five to six TPS employees.

For a long time, the collected bikes made their way to the university’s surplus, where unneeded and abandoned items, such as office furniture, were auctioned off a few times per year. Not many bicycles made their way back to students who needed them, and TPS saw very little return financially or a positive impact on the transportation system from the auction. The trend repeated every year until 2014.

A Growing Trend
Texas Tech’s student population continues to grow—currently, the campus hosts 35,000 students with a target of 40,000 by 2020. TPS estimates that 5,000 to 6,000 students and employees bike on campus during the fall and spring semesters. Students use bicycles to commute from their homes and residence halls and even from their vehicles in commuter lots, bypassing the busing system.

That said, many students haven’t biked in years. They want to try cycling again but have reservations. Some are hesitant to spend the funds on a new means of transportation on top of the cost of attending a university. If they don’t enjoy cycling or aren’t sure how to make a simple repair to their bicycle, they stop using their bikes and see a loss on their investment. The latter leads to a number of abandoned bicycles. And if the student enjoys cycling, many times they upgrade from an entry-level bicycle to a better built, more durable bicycle. Clearly, it made sense to try and match up homeless bikes with interested students.

Setting Up the Sale

After the summer 2014 abandoned bicycle collections, the department held back 130 bicycles in its tow yard. Texas Tech’s Office of Risk Management asked that the bicycles sell in as-is condition to limit any liability from repairs made by TPS, so those in poor shape or needing major repairs were passed to surplus instead of sales. Those that needed simple fixes, such as derailed chains or flat tires, went up for sale.

Programmers set up bicycle sales in NuPark, which offered an online payment option and pulled from not only the bicycle tow listing but also campus parking accounts. This also limited the sales to the target audience: Texas Tech students and employees. TPS prominently placed waivers throughout the sale pages—including each bicycle’s purchase page—disclaiming any warranties.

Each bicycle listing featured a photo of the bicycle taken at collection, the make, and the wheel size. The department priced the bicycles at an egalitarian $40 across the board, and each came with a new U-lock, one of the most theft-proof types of bicycle locks on the market. The sales were not intended to serve as a money-making venture, so the $40 covered the cost of the U-lock and a small portion of labor costs.

Throughout the summer, those staffing the information and purchasing tables at new-student orientations shared details about the upcoming sale with incoming students and their families through conversations and informational postcards. Roughly two weeks before the sale date, TPS began marketing the sale through Twitter, TechAnnounce (the daily campus-wide email messaging system), and the Texas Tech Parent and Family Relations eNewsletter—all free resources. Word spread quickly throughout campus.

Sale Logistics
Programmers set the NuPark Campus bicycle sales page to become visible at midnight on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014—the first business day following residence hall move-in. Students and employees had three ways to purchase bicycles: online through their parking accounts, in-person at the TPS office, or at a bike sale outpost. The outpost consisted of about a dozen bicycles in the sale stationed in the plaza between the student union building and library—the area of campus with the greatest amount of foot traffic. It also provided a chance for department visibility and interaction.

When a bicycle sold, the purchaser had 10 days to pick up the bicycle from TPS. Buyers presented a form of identification (driver’s license or Texas Tech identification card) to a frontline staff member in the permit office, and the staff member registered the bicycle to the purchaser and took payment if the bicycle was not purchased online with a credit card. A TPS staff member then escorted the purchaser to the tow yard, pulled the appropriate bicycle with the rack assignment provided in NuPark Campus, and gave the bicycle and the U-lock to the purchaser. If the purchaser failed to pick up the bicycle within 10 days of purchase, the purchaser forfeited the $40 payment and any rights to the bicycle. The bicycle then returned to the sale.

TPS knew the bicycle sale would go over well with Red Raiders. Employees in all areas of the department heard of students and employees in search of affordable bicycles, and a number had unsuccessful attempts at purchasing one at the surplus auctions. But TPS didn’t know just how popular the sale would be.

By the time employees reported at 8 a.m. that Monday, more than half the allotment of 130 bicycles sold. By the end of the workday, only about 20 remained. By the end of the night, the entire lot was gone. All 130 bicycles sold within 24 hours of being put online.

Students who needed bicycles got them at a reduced rate. With the U-lock, TPS gave purchasers the ability to prevent bicycle thefts on campus. Because bicycle registration occurred when the bicycles were picked up, registration numbers grew, and crews could identify more bicycle owners throughout the year and during 2015 abandoned collections. When a purchaser picked up a bicycle, TPS employees shared information at Bike Tech, the on-campus bicycle shop housed in the Student Recreation Center’s Outdoor Pursuits Center. Bike Tech provides a shop where Texas Tech students and employees use bicycle repair tools free of charge or, for a minimal amount and the cost of parts, have bicycle mechanics fix problem areas.

Most importantly, the new system introduced more students and employees to cycling. The sales got bicycles back into the hands of those who needed or wanted them at a low cost. Employees who never biked to work purchased bicycles to try the commute. In one case, an employee who had no success buying a bicycle through the surplus auctions after multiple tries bought a bicycle so she and her husband could finally bike together. Many bicycles went to incoming students just starting college life, and others went to returning students who wanted to give bicycling a shot for the first time.

Because the 2014 sale sold out so quickly, the department doubled the amount of bicycles offered for sale in 2015 and split them into two sales: Monday, Aug. 17, the first workday after students moved into residence halls, and Monday, Aug. 24, the first day of class. The first sale sold out in six hours and the second in 12 hours. A total of 342 bicycles sold in 2015. Even with increased offerings, the demand continues to rise.

Craig Cotton is unit supervisor of Texas Tech University Parking Services. He can be reached at craig.cotton@ttu.edu.

Stacy Stockard is senior editor of Texas Tech University Parking Services. She can be reached at stacy.moncibaiz@ttu.edu.

TPP-2015-10-A Win-Win on Two Wheels

Bicycles Bicycles Bicycles

TPP-2015-10-Bicycles Bicycles BicyclesBy Doug Holmes, CAPP

There are thousands of bicycles on the Penn State University Park campus and thousands more in the adjacent Borough of State College. In fact, walksite.com recently ranked the Centre Region (State College area) as the ninth most bicycle-friendly location in the country, with a score of 77 out of 100. Many factors are considered but sufficient modern bike racks play a big role.

It’s a fact on a lot of college campuses and their surrounding communities: Many bikes end up left behind by students. If nothing is done, the accrual of abandoned bikes over the course of a couple of years results in a lack of available legitimate bicycle parking spots. It’s funny how things always seem to get back to being a parking problem.

The Borough of State College generally auctions off more than 100 bicycles per year. Last year, Penn State gathered 317 abandoned bikes during roundup time and another 60 during the course of the year. One year, we did not do the annual roundup and had more than 600 abandoned bikes to deal with the following year. At the rate of 300-plus abandoned bicycles per year, a point is rapidly reached where there is insufficient space for legitimate use.

The problem faced by staff is differentiating bicycles that are abandoned from those that are still used. You can’t judge a bike by its appearance. Junky old bikes are frequently leaning up against the new very expensive bikes and it is the junky one that still has an owner and is currently registered.

Identifying the Abandoned
Fortunately, we have a model for dealing with this issue that works well. The university and all surrounding municipalities have a rule/ordinance that requires bikes to be registered. The Penn State Parking Office purchases the bicycle permits and coordinates the registration process. Bicycle shops in the area cooperate and assist by making sure that bikes sold have a current registration upon sale. Registration is coordinated by the Penn State Parking Office and data is housed on campus. Permits are free to anyone who applies.

Bicycles are registered for a two-year period with one series expiring every May 31. Those permits must then be replaced by another two-year permit.

Penn State can confiscate any bicycle parked on campus that is not currently registered or that is parked at an unapproved location, such as sign posts, fences, trees, etc. One particular pet peeve of mine is when a bike is parked on a handrail with the cranks and handlebars sticking through to the pedestrian way. This poses a problem not only to the general public but more severely to the visually impaired. The borough will cut the locks and confiscate bikes parked in similar locations but does not have the ability to confiscate a bike parked on private property or someone’s residence. Bicycle owners can be ticketed if their bike is removed from anything that is not intended to serve as a bike rack.

In addition to bikes collected during the year for various violations, the Spring Bicycle Roundup is held on campus after the permit expiration date. Parking enforcement staff tags all bikes on campus that do not have current permits. The tag notifies the owner (See photo on p. 34) the bicycle will be deemed abandoned. If the owner renews the registration or removes the bike between tagging and roundup it will not be confiscated. Locks and chains are cut at the owner’s expense during roundup.

Any tagged bikes that remain are considered abandoned and removed. Attempts are made to identify owners through various methods, such as looking for information from old expired permits or the serial number on the bike. Occasionally a bike that was previously reported as stolen is located. In those instances, the information and bike are turned over to university police. Bikes that are returned to their owners are required to be registered.

Bicycles are held for a minimum of 90 days to satisfy the Pennsylvania Escheats Laws and then sold at auction if unclaimed. Penn State and the Borough of State College auction off the unclaimed bikes.

The borough holds its auction via a third party (Public Surplus), bundling three bikes of varying quality and selling them as a lot. Each lot generally fetches between $40 and $50, grossing about $1,500 per year. Funds are deposited in the borough’s general funds account.

Penn State takes a different path: Live auctions are held at Lion Surplus (the division of auxiliary and business services that disposes of university property) every spring. According to Lion Surplus staff, the spring auction generally grosses between $7,000 and $10,000. This money is used to improve the bicycle friendliness of the area through the purchase of more and better bike racks, paths, etc. There has also been some discussion of getting a bicycle advocacy group to take parts of the less attractive or functional bikes and create a usable bike, but that is still in the discussion phase.

The university sales effort is coordinated with the parking office, which has staff on hand to register each bicycle before it leaves the premises. There are also skid loads of hulks that are sold as scrap.

There is talk of holding two auctions per year, one in fall and one in spring, and some of the better bikes are now being culled from the cache and put on the Lion Surplus sales floor for sale at any time. Apparently, bicycles sold in this fashion garner a higher price than those sold at auction. However, if too many of the better bikes are put on the sales room floor, it can decrease the number of people who show up for the auctions.

Recently, the borough began a program in which some of the unclaimed bikes are used in a bike share program for staff. Borough offices are mainly concentrated in the center of town, but ordinance or zoning inspections take municipal staff to all corners of the borough. Other department staff also need to get quickly from the borough building to other borough facilities. Having a bike handy is a convenient way to travel through the municipality and informally supports employee wellness programs.

Although roundup efforts are concentrated in the spring, staff collects bicycles all year round. A pick-up truck or van is rented in the spring for the mass collection. When bicycles are collected during the rest of the year parking staff attach a bike rack to their vehicles to transport bikes to the impound area. Officers can put the rack on or off the car in a very short time.

All in all, it takes a lot of effort to create a complete bicycle program. There are many aspects to a good, friendly bicycle environment that go beyond the creation of bike racks. Dedicated bike lanes, maintenance stations, air stations, lockers, etc. all contribute to the overall bicycle friendliness of the entire community. Certainly, removing the bikes routinely dumped on campus and the surrounding community is another key part of bicycling efforts.

Doug Holmes, CAPP, is interim parking manager at the Borough of State College, Pa. He can be reached at dholmes@statecollegepa.us.

TPP-2015-10-Bicycles Bicycles Bicycles

The Best Fixes

TPP-2015-10-The Best FixesBy John M. Porter, PE, and Nathan D. Boutin, PE

Parking structures are an integral element in our daily lives that create an interchange between our homes, our destinations, and our built environment. These structures are often incorporated into buildings, integrated into the surrounding landscape, or serve as stand-alone architectural features. With so many of these structures aging—in some cases, decades beyond their expected useful lives—repair and rehabilitation projects offer an opportunity to revive both function and form.

Although they bear the brunt of the harshest conditions in our environment, parking structures are sometimes under-maintained and over-used. They are exposed to freeze-thaw cycles, corrosive salts and chemicals, fatigue from cyclic-loading, and exposure to moisture that all can lead to deterioration of the structure and building components. The most common cause of concrete deterioration is corrosion of the embedded reinforcing steel, which is often the result of chloride contamination in cold climates and coastal areas. Chlorides in de-icing salts and seawater break down the typically excellent protection that concrete provides against reinforcing steel corrosion.

Corrosion byproducts (rust) have a larger volume than the original, stable reinforcing steel. This expansion causes bursting tensile stresses within the concrete that leads to delamination and spalling of the concrete (Photo 1). Similarly, steel-framed parking structures will corrode when paints, galvanizing, and other protective coatings are damaged or fail and the structural steel is exposed to moisture.

When parking structures are not maintained and condition assessments are not performed on a regular basis, future repair costs can grow exponentially. This often leads to large, expensive projects that, in some cases, come as a surprise to building owners, parking space owners, and building tenants. The following three rehabilitation case studies demonstrate a range of small to large projects that integrated aesthetic upgrades, end-user improvements, and functional enhancements while managing parking and facility users throughout construction.

Parking Garage, Condominium Building,
Brookline, Mass.

This two-level, partially-below-grade concrete parking structure built in 1964 is located below a seven-story condominium building and accommodates about 30 vehicles. This small garage is critical to the condominium owners as other parking options in this congested area are limited. A plaza above the garage is used as a common space for owners to utilize the swimming pool that is recessed into the elevated plaza level structure. Exposure to de-icing salts and moisture eventually led to chloride contamination of the concrete and widespread deterioration.

In the spring of 2013, a contractor was hired directly by the condominium association to repair the most severely deteriorated area of the elevated concrete parking deck. Due to the severity of deterioration, the entire slab was demolished within the repair zone, which came as a surprise to the condominium owners and the contractor. At that point, the contractor and the board of trustees stopped the project and quickly retained a structural engineer to prepare construction documents for the slab replacement. The team worked together to develop a fast-track repair approach to reconstruct the parking deck, which was completed in approximately one month.

The next spring, the board recognized that a complete condition assessment of the parking garage and plaza was needed to determine repair costs, prioritize repairs, and establish the budget. The board hired an engineer to perform the assessment, which revealed widespread and severe deterioration of the parking deck, failed plaza waterproofing, collapsing pool fencing (Photo 2), failed security doors, and deteriorated fire protection systems. Three rehabilitation alternatives were developed as part of the condition assessment that provided the board with the anticipated costs, advantages, and disadvantages of each alternative. The alternatives were designed to provide the owner with a range of initial construction costs and associated future maintenance and repair costs.

The board determined that repairing all current deterioration throughout the garage and plaza, as well as installation of pedestrian and vehicular-traffic-bearing membranes on the parking deck and plaza; new pool security fencing; and upgrades to entrance ramps, handrails, doors, security systems, and fire protection was the preferred rehabilitation approach. This was the most expensive of the three options presented and carried a heavy price tag (nearly $500,000) for a small condominium building.

The building tenants wanted the project to revitalize the garage and create a gathering space on the plaza that was missing for years. After review of bids for the project, the board allocated enough funds to also perform a pool restoration project along with the garage and plaza rehabilitation. The project began in the summer of 2014 (Photo 3) and displaced all garage tenants, who were transitioned to street parking permits. This was a major inconvenience for the condominium owners, who were accustomed to readily accessible parking within the garage, and made it critical to maintain the construction schedule and reopen the garage to parking. Construction required frequent communication and planning with the board due to the small nature of the site and building occupants who were located immediately adjacent to construction activities.

The project team worked together to track repair quantities and the schedule, and also performed frequent cost analyses and projections to stay on budget. Many of the repairs in the contract were performed on a unit-price basis, where cost is driven by the quantity of repairs based on the level of deterioration (as opposed to a lump-sum contract). This made budget updates and quantity projections critical to the overall project budget.

Construction was completed on budget in the spring of 2015 (Photo 4). At the conclusion of the project, the board initiated discussions with the engineer to implement routine maintenance and inspections to stay ahead of future repair costs.

Reservoir Place Garage, Waltham, Mass.
The two-level parking garage at Reservoir Place has 700 parking spaces below a three-story, 140,000-square-foot office building and is critical to daily facility operations. The below-grade garage, constructed in the mid-1980s, is a Filigree structure consisting of a cast-in-place concrete topping on prestressed concrete planks. The owner observed extensive cracking and spalling concrete throughout the garage, and in 2012, retained an engineer to perform a structural condition assessment and develop a rehabilitation program to extend the useful life of the structure.

The condition assessment included visual observations of the structural components, inspection of the existing reinforcement at exploratory openings made in the topside of the elevated deck, and examination of concrete cores extracted from the underside of the elevated deck. Based on the condition assessment, the engineer prepared rehabilitation alternatives and construction cost estimates for the owner’s consideration and provided a cost/benefit analysis of each alternative. The owner elected to undertake a $1.9 million rehabilitation project to repair damaged structural elements and protect the elevated parking deck with the application of a ­vehicular-traffic-bearing waterproofing system. The engineer customized the waterproofing system to accommodate areas of widespread cracking and other areas of heavy use, such as turning areas and entrance/exit lanes.

The repairs were designed in 2013, and construction began that fall. Building operations, tenant access, and parking needed to be maintained throughout the project so the engineer worked with the owner to develop detailed construction phasing plans to limit the loss of parking and provide egress and access throughout the garage. Nearly all concrete repairs required extensive temporary shoring to safely support the structure during demolition activities (Photos 5 and 6). The project involved seven phases that were subdivided further by the contractor based on the amount of shoring materials that could be installed in any given phase. To minimize the disruption to building occupants during the work because of sound vibrations, project documents required hydrodemolition to remove unsound concrete. When the contractor needed to use pneumatic demolition equipment for certain structural elements, the work was performed in off hours (nights and weekends). Monitoring during pneumatic demolition was also critical due to a laser eye surgery center that houses sensitive equipment directly above the construction zone. The engineer installed seismographs to monitor background ambient vibrations, trial demolition, and production demolition to verify that vibration levels did not exceed the laser-eye equipment threshold.

With the installation of more than 140,000 square feet of vehicular-traffic-bearing waterproofing (Photo 7), odors needed to be considered to reduce disturbance to garage users and tenants in the office space above. The engineer specified a low-odor system to reduce the impact on the building occupants. The project team also coordinated mechanical system functions with the building engineer to verify that elevator shafts and stair towers were put under positive air pressure during waterproofing installation and all doors and penetrations were sealed. Exhaust systems in the garage and temporary exhaust fans were also used to mitigate odors.

In addition to structural repairs and waterproofing, the owner pursued a lighting upgrade and painting of all walls and columns throughout the garage. These projects achieved reduced energy consumption and improved visibility and safety, benefitting both the owner and the garage occupants. With all three projects occurring simultaneously, the owner had a significant coordination effort to manage. The multiple phases in the rehabilitation project provided frequent opportunities for the engineer to produce quantity and total cost projections, typically at the end of a phase or sub-phase. The projections proved to be useful to the owner’s cash flow while managing all three projects.

Construction was completed in the fall of 2014, and the owner implemented a garage maintenance program. The program was developed by the owner and engineer to include general maintenance items, structural repairs, and waterproofing repairs based on anticipated material life-cycles. The engineer also provided maintenance, repair, and monitoring budget estimates for the next 15 years to assist the owner with future budgeting.

Hawthorne Place, Boston, Mass.
Hawthorne Place was constructed in 1965 and consists of two 17-story condominium buildings with a two-level, below-grade parking garage with a footprint of approximately 110,000 square feet and 660 parking spaces. The roof of the garage, known as the plaza, is at-grade and is comprised of parking areas, drive lanes, walkways, and landscaped plaza areas. The elevated parking decks and plaza are cast-in-place concrete waffle slabs. The plaza level was originally treated with built-up waterproofing that was at the end of its useful life. There was chronic leakage throughout the garage and widespread concrete deterioration. The most severe leakage occurred along the expansion joints where the original waterproofing and waterstops had failed.

After years of increasing leakage, installation of temporary gutters, damage to vehicles, and widespread concrete deterioration, the owner hired a structural engineer to perform a condition assessment of the elevated decks and plaza level. The condition assessment included:

  • Visual observations of the structural components.
  • Acoustical sounding to document the extent of delaminated concrete.

Non-destructive testing:

  • Half-cell potential testing to document corrosion activity.
  • Ground penetrating radar to determine the concrete cover over reinforcement.

Concrete testing:

  • Petrographic (microscopic) analysis of concrete cores.
  • Compression strength testing.
  • Chloride content testing.

Exploratory openings in the overburden on the plaza level to inspect the condition of the waterproofing, document the depth of overburden, and inspect the condition of the concrete deck.

Condition assessment of the electrical and mechanical systems throughout the garage.

The condition assessment revealed concrete deterioration over approximately 30 percent of the decks and widespread failure of the plaza level waterproofing membrane. The concrete deterioration was the result of chloride contamination from de-icing salts and exposure to moisture. After the design team performed the condition assessment, it prepared multiple rehabilitation alternatives to extend the useful life of the structure. The options included varying types of waterproofing membranes, cathodic protection, and application of corrosion inhibitors with varying construction costs and future maintenance costs. The owner ultimately determined that widespread concrete rehabilitation (Photo 8), new waterproofing, new vehicular-traffic-bearing waterproofing systems, and new landscaping was the preferred rehabilitation approach.

Construction documents were developed, the project was competitively bid and awarded, and construction commenced.
The $8 million project was phased over three years to accommodate operations on the plaza, maintain parking, and maintain egress and access to and from the condominium buildings. The final project provided the owner with a rehabilitated garage and plaza with the showcase of the project being the landscaping and hardscape features (Photos 9 and 10). These features included mature landscaping, new planters, lighting upgrades, roadways, and accessible walkways throughout the site for building occupants and garage users.

Deterioration and distress in parking structures often goes unnoticed or unaddressed until widespread repairs are required. Performing routine inspections and implementing a maintenance program will help extend the useful life of the structure and building components and will reduce future maintenance costs. By prioritizing short- and long-term repairs, the owner can budget for future projects and plan repair work that can often impact parking and revenue. When large repair projects are needed, understanding the rehabilitation options along with the advantages, disadvantages, and associated costs of various options will help the owner determine the repair strategy that fits his budget and the future of the parking facility.

John M. Porter, PE, is an associate principal with Simpson Gumpertz & Heger. He can be reached at jmporter@sgh.com or 781.907.9390.

Nathan D. Boutin, PE, is senior staff I-structures at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger. He can be reached at ndboutin@sgh.com or 781.907.9389.

TPP-2015-10-The Best Fixes

Big Picture

TPP-2015-10-Big PictureBy Mike Martindill and Mitch Skyer

Georgia Regents University Augusta (GRU) is a ­newly-formed consolidation of two long standing universities: the Medical College of Georgia and Augusta State University. The schools are only a few miles apart in Augusta and were two of eight the Georgia Board of Regents elected to consolidate to share resources, combine curriculums, and provide better learning environments by joining together.

During the consolidation of the Medical College of Georgia and Augusta State University, it was clear to senior administration and other stakeholders that a comprehensive evaluation of both parking and transit was needed to help ensure better connectivity and improved use of the infrastructure that served the two institutions.

Connectivity between campuses, proper allocation and sharing of parking resources, adequate parking, improved mobility, identifying technology enhancements, and the implementation of new parking management initiatives were all primary elements of the parking and transit master plan.

GRU engaged a qualified team of parking and transportation planners and specialists to assist in developing a comprehensive plan that would focus on transit planning, improving connectivity between the campuses, and enhancing the efficiency of the transit program. The team also studied current parking conditions, estimated future parking needs (including the sizing and siting of any new parking improvements), and addressed wayfinding, signage, and the condition of the existing parking assets and other parking-related needs/issues.

Working Together
Initially, the team worked in a collaborative manner to study existing conditions and spent a significant amount of time at both campuses to better understand in-place systems during peak times of activity and how effectively transit and parking supported the respective needs of each institution. The team rode the buses, walked the campuses, met with stakeholders, conducted workshops to solicit input from various users, and performed a large amount of due diligence to develop models that represented current conditions. Team members used these models and other information to estimate future needs for both transit and parking, considering anticipated growth of the new institution during the next 10 years.

In addition, through a comprehensive due diligence effort, the team developed a series of parking management initiatives aimed at improving parking conditions, allocating parking properly among the various use groups, and improving and simplifying parking enforcement. Though parking and transit were managed as well as could be expected given the limited resources in place, it was clear that several new initiatives could take parking and transit to a higher level. From the outset, the team wanted to take advantage of its collective experience to recommend common best practices used throughout the country that have proven effective in improving parking and transit management while enhancing the experience of the users.

Challenges and Opportunities
Throughout the study, the team met with a strategic planning firm to better understand the university’s vision for improving the quality of life for students, staff, and visitors who will live, visit, and learn at the newly formed consolidated university. The Medical College of Georgia campus is quite dense and situated among the city’s large Veterans Affairs medical center and another not-for-profit hospital. Existing parking and traffic was very congested, with campus parking consisting of five parking garages, several parking lots, and some on-street parking. Typically, the college’s parking was extremely well-utilized, especially for visitors and patients of the hospitals and medical office buildings making up the medical college campus. In addition, several academic buildings are located on campus, which further contributes to its parking woes. To provide adequate parking, several remote lots were needed that were not well-served by the college’s transit system, let alone linked to nearby Augusta State.

At Augusta State, parking consists of surface parking at two campus locations. Though not nearly as dense as the Medical College of Georgia, finding a space on campus on busy days was a challenge. Neither campus had in place an effective parking enforcement program for ensuring the proper use of parking between the various user groups.
The original vision was to add more buildings at the less-dense Augusta State campus to improve the quality of life and create a different kind of campus environment than existed. However, as the goals and objectives advanced, the new (and current) vision is to expand the campus formerly known as the Medical College of Georgia.

The Solution

The team assembled several new ideas for improving transit and parking conditions, paving the way for both the transit and parking systems to accommodate the long-term growth of the new consolidated campuses. The most important recommendation included the mission-critical proposal to hire a new champion for the consolidated university’s parking and transit system. This person would be responsible for implementing many of the new initiatives the team recommended. The new director-level hire would report to the vice president of auxiliary services and needed to have a strong background in managing parking systems for both universities and medical centers. Once this person was on board, he or she would procure the parking and transit technology, parking equipment, software, and hardware necessary for managing the parking and transit between the two campuses. In essence, this person would start with a blank slate and create a new, sustainable parking and transit system to support GRU and its anticipated growth and significance to the state of Georgia—a great opportunity.

After a presentation of the findings and recommendations, the study effort was expanded to collaborate with another master planning effort. This plan would take the consolidation in a different direction, placing more emphasis on vertical construction and expansion at the existing Medical College of Georgia campus. The expansion of the medical college campus was arguably more representative of the greater vision for consolidating the two schools and the creation of a superior public medical school. The transportation and parking plan was then revised to support the new vision.

GRU has already implemented several of the initiatives outlined in this plan, including the development of a more efficient usage of the transit system, accessibility of remote parking lots, linking the two campuses with new transit routes, and improving headway times of the transit system.

The transit recommendations focused on campus connectivity between the Health Sciences (downtown) and Summerville/Forest Hills/University Village (uptown) locations. GRU recognized from the outset that the service had to be both functional and appealing. Any option that required passengers to plan their days in multiple-hour segments would never be used by a large number of people. The service had to be timely and responsive and had to provide a terrific alternative to driving on congested roads and hunting for elusive parking spots. For the Health Sciences (downtown) campus, employee and patient movement were the primary considerations. The workforce locations were evaluated in conjunction with the currently available and projected parking locations.

Recommendations to influence parking decisions, such as assigned permitting, installing gate controlled access, and clearly separating patient, employee, and student parking in an enforceable manner, were made. These recommendations were of primary importance to the transit system as they allowed the planning to be based on predictable and enforceable behavior. GRU was extremely concerned with the possibility of implementing a transportation system that would be underutilized, or worse, completely ignored. By planning transit around parking, the convenience and value of the bus system increased significantly. Employee movement was considered both when arriving and departing the workplace, student class periods and demand for services were evaluated, and when patients were affected, their convenience level was made a priority. Choice was a key factor in offering both parking options and transit connectivity. When people were provided with choice regarding costs, time, and location, they felt more in-control and could base their behavior and decisions on personal preferences rather than simply being assigned a solution.

Passengers consistently demand their transit system be convenient and offer frequent service. This can often exceed budget limitations and result in unsustainable costs. To meet these seemingly opposing requirements, GPS vehicle tracking software was implemented on all vehicles. This solution provided real-time passenger information regarding bus locations. Passengers can download apps directly to their Apple or Android phones and track the bus and stop information and select individual and multiple routes. Additionally, display options of single routes and the full transit system can be published to the GRU parking and transit website and shown on kiosk displays at key passenger gathering points.

Operationally, technology plays a crucial role. The GRU transit manager and supervisors can track speed, location, idling time, hours of operation, route and schedule performance, and vehicle history at the touch of a button. GRU also elected to implement passenger-counting technology to track peak usage, gather data to evaluate route costs per passenger, and have information available to determine whether stops should be removed or given additional service. The data gathered on every bus during all routes will enable GRU to make operational decisions quickly, save money, improve service levels, and enhance operations on a continual basis. In an environment in which there are many competing interests and those interests are often independently justified, having solid data encourages understanding and cooperation when difficult decisions regarding resource allocation have to be made.

Looking Ahead
GRU is in the midst of hiring a parking director to take on the many opportunities that still exist for improved parking enforcement, such as using license plate recognition and digital permitting, eliminating an abundance of reserved parking, changing the pricing structure, improving existing parking assets, and establishing reserves for extending the useful life of the university’s parking assets. It was clear throughout this project that new parking technology was key to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the new parking management initiatives. For GRU, this means the addition of new software and hardware, but the value of this update is absolutely worth the investment long term.

Everyone involved in the process is confident that once these recommendations are implemented, parking and transit behavior will change and a new and improved experience will be created for all who work, live, learn, teach, and visit the newly formed Georgia Regents University at Augusta.

Mike Martindill is vice president of Timothy Haahs & Associates, Inc. (TimHaahs). He can be reached at mmartindill@timhaahs.com.

Mitch Skyer is president of Passio Technologies, Inc. He can be reached at mitch@passiotech.com.

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The Lost Art Of Networking

TPP-2015-10-The Lost Art Of NetworkingBy Bill Smith, APR

Networking has always been a hallmark of successful businesses. But at many organizations today, it’s a lost art.
I spoke with Whitney Taylor, president of Whitney Inc., a professional services firm based in Los Angeles that provides business development strategy, marketing/communications, PR/outreach, and government relations services. She is well-known throughout the parking industry as a networker extraordinaire and can often be found at parking, business, and government networking groups and events.

According to Taylor, “Organizations tend to overlook the need to maintain and grow their networks on an ongoing and consistent basis. Many companies think they can begin building a relationship when a need arises. Wrong! Network before there is a need! It’s much harder to connect with someone as a customer or partner when you are still trying to get to know him. Effective networking allows you to get to know people before you work together.”

Unfortunately, many organizations don’t place a premium on networking, and it can become an afterthought, getting lost in the shuffle of day-to-day operations. Ironically, the advent of social media as a marketing and business development tool may be contributing to the trend of diminishing face-to-face marketing. It can be tempting for parking professionals to focus solely on electronic networking. Why not? You never have to leave your desk to connect with other professionals, prospective customers, or partners.

Don’t do it. Abandoning face-to-face networking is a mistake.

Building Relationships
“Building relationships is often undervalued,” says Taylor. “This is a relationship, not an acquaintance. You need to treat it like a real relationship, getting to know people personally and learning what’s important to them. Really getting to know people puts you in a position of being able to provide real value to the relationship.

“A relationship isn’t just a handshake and a drink,” continues Taylor. “It’s showing, rather than just telling, people that you can deliver and that they can trust you.”

So, how do you build your network? According to Taylor, it depends on what type of organization you represent and what type of outreach is needed. For example, if your company is struggling with new business success or looking to expand into a new vertical, your networking efforts should be geared toward reaching the decision-makers in the verticals into which you hope to expand. Learn their needs and wants. You need to know which decision-makers will be important to your organization in the months and years ahead and solidify those relationships rather than trying to build them from scratch when you are seeking their business.

There are plenty of opportunities to network within the parking industry as well as in vertical industries your organization may serve. Local affiliated branches of national industry organizations often offer annual conferences and trade shows, business meetings, and committees in which to participate. Likewise, local business groups typically have regularly scheduled meetings and networking happy hours.

Saying Hello
According to Taylor, although it may seem intimidating to walk into a room of strangers and introduce yourself to people, it’s really not that difficult. “Remember,” Taylor says, “everyone feels just as awkward as you do. They might even appreciate having you break the ice.”

But it’s important to remember that networking doesn’t end when you leave the event. In fact, that’s just the beginning. You need to stay in touch with the people you connect with and cultivate relationships with them. Like any relationship, it needs to be nurtured.

Taylor offers this parting wisdom: “Follow up, follow up, follow up! We get business cards everywhere, all the time. If you aren’t following up and getting to really know people, you are just wasting your time.”

Bill Smith, APR, is principal of Smith-Phillips Strategic Communications and contributing editor of The Parking Professional. He can be reached at bsmith@smith-phillips.com or 603.491.4280.

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On the Road; In the Lot

TPP-2015-10-On the Road; In the LotBy Irma Henderson, CAPP

By now, there are very few people who have not heard the terms “global warming” and “climate change.” While there are some who feel the increasing temperatures are a result of Earth’s natural cycles, others point to the increase of mankind’s use of fossil fuels.

Regardless of the reasons why, Earth’s climate is getting warmer, and the signs are everywhere. Rain patterns are changing, the sea level is rising, and snow and ice are melting. As global temperatures continue to rise, we’ll see more changes in our climate and our environment—extreme drought in California, snow in Atlanta, and flooding in Texas.

One of the entities invested in battling climate change, advocating for clean energy, and educating the public is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. One of the publications produced by the agency is “What Can You Do—On The Road,” which addresses every parking operator’s key customers: the driver and his/her vehicle. It outlines six simple steps that our customers can take to reduce their carbon footprint, which can have real effects on how the parking industry operates.
Buy Smart
When shopping for a new or used vehicle, choose the cleanest, most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets your needs. Some of the most fuel-efficient, cost-effective vehicles are also some of the smallest vehicles on the market. These smaller vehicles can have a great effect on our parking supply if operators can adequately evaluate their customers’ needs and adjust accordingly. Case in point: Smart cars, Mini Coopers, and Fiats are so small that they redefine the definition of a compact vehicle and the amount of area needed to park those vehicles.

Drive Smart
To improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, drive more efficiently by observing the speed limits, going easy on the brakes and gas pedal, and avoiding excessive idling. Three words: automatic space counters. Consumers’ desires to drive smarter and reduce idling/circling time now fall directly in line with operators’ needs to provide greater customer service and quick and easy access to available, open parking.

Tune Your Ride and Check Your Tires
Get regular maintenance, tune-ups, oil changes, and new filters, and keep your tires properly inflated. If you have looked at the Green Parking Council’s Green Garage Certification Standard, you know that adding a tire inflation station is a small value-added service most operators can install for a fairly minimal investment.

Give Your Car a Break
Use public transportation, carpool, walk, or bike whenever possible to avoid using your car. Leaving your car at home just two days a week can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by an average of two tons per year. While this may be counterproductive to a private operator’s daily revenue goals, for some entities, such as universities and hospitals, it can have a large, positive effect on demand and reduce the need to build costly infrastructure.

Use Renewable or Alternative Fuels

There is a wide variety of vehicles and fuel types available today that can lower your greenhouse gas emissions, from E85 and biodiesel to electric, compressed natural gas, and hydrogen fuel-celled vehicles. There are more than 10,000 alternative fueling stations in the U.S. today, and several federal, state, and local agencies offer grants and programs to build and increase the infrastructure to support these technologies. The challenge for the parking industry is to not only respond to the potential fueling needs of our customers but also balance our need to manage our assets, space allocation, and turnover ratios.

Whether or not you believe in climate change, one thing is certain: Business is always evolving as customer needs change. The question now lies in your hands: Are you going to struggle to cope with a changing environment or are you going to anticipate them and successfully prepare?

Irma Henderson, CAPP, is interim director of transportation, parking, and fleet services at the University of California, Riverside, and co-chair of IPI’s Sustainability Committee. She can be reached at irma.henderson@ucr.edu.

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A Five-Year Approach to Protecting Your Parking Investment

TPP-2015-10-A Five-Year Approach to Protecting Your Parking InvestmentBy John Dorsett, AICP

You have a lot invested in your parking assets. Parking can be capital intensive and represents a significant investment for owners. In light of this, it’s remarkable how often parking owners take a set-it-and-forget-it approach to their parking assets.

How can owners ensure their parking is operating at its peak? The secret can be found in the implementation of a five-year strategic plan through which parking resources are evaluated, areas needing structural and operational improvement are identified, and plans are made to complete those improvements.

Getting Started
The first step is evaluating the current performance of parking areas. There are two areas of primary concern to be evaluated: customer service and operations.

In evaluating customer service, owners and their operators need to determine whether parking facilities are pleasant and easy to use. Can parkers easily find spaces close to their ultimate destinations? Can drivers enter and exit the facility quickly and conveniently? Are stairways and floors clean and well-illuminated? Is equipment working properly?

On the operational side, owners should begin by auditing their equipment and systems to ensure that facilities are operating at optimum efficiency and that equipment is operating well. Are equipment and software up to date? Are you charging the right rates? Is technology being used to control costs? If your facility accepts credit cards for parking payments, are you compliant with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS)?

The answers will determine what remedies are required. If stairwells and floors aren’t sufficiently clean and illuminated, the fix may be as simple as washing parking areas and installing LED lighting. If congestion is found at entrances and exits, the solution may be to automate payment and access control.

If parkers find it difficult and time-consuming to find parking, the answer could be a parking guidance system. There’s a variety of guidance systems to choose from, from simple LED signs outside entrances indicating where spaces are available to complex systems featuring illuminated, single-space sensors. Modern mobile technologies are also available.

Simple fixes can be found for administrative shortcomings as well. If management software isn’t up to date or doesn’t do enough, the easy solution is to purchase a management software package that meets the facility’s needs. If equipment isn’t operating to full capacity, it should be repaired or replaced.

When it comes to pricing, it often makes sense to hire a consultant to perform an operations analysis. The consultant can evaluate utilization (how close to capacity the facility is on average) and make recommendations. Owners may feel great about the fact that their parking facilities are full every day, but this may actually be a warning sign that they aren’t charging enough. When this is the case, owners are leaving money on the table.

Likewise, if a facility tends to operate well under capacity every day, it may be an indication that rates are too high or that the facilities aren’t convenient, clean, or efficient enough. These are all questions the parking consultant can answer.

Preparing for the Future
The third element of the five-year plan is to prepare for the future. One essential item that’s often ignored by owners is preventive maintenance. The five-year plan should include a maintenance schedule.

It is equally important to set aside money for capital improvements. In spite of owners’ best efforts at maintenance, equipment can break down and structural elements can become compromised. Owners can’t afford to be caught cash-strapped when vital repairs become necessary.

By implementing a five-year strategic parking plan owners can be sure that they are getting the most out of their parking assets. And when the five-year plan is completed, it’s time to start again!

John Dorsett, AICP, is a certified planner and principal with Walker Parking Consultants. He can be reached at john.dorsett@walkerparking.com.

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